Chris Wood grew up in the Rumson-Fair Haven area.
He graduated from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School. He grew into adulthood immersed in R-FH tradition, much of which included summer fun in Sea Bright. He has a love of Sea Bright that is steeped in good memories.
Like all R-FHers, he spent many a day at Sea Bright beaches and many a night at Donovan's Reef and Ichabod's. It was just the R-FH way. If you wanted to connect with R-FH classmates, post-high school, you could usually find them back at some Sea Bright haunt, like Ichabod's.
In keeping with tradition, Chris, also known as Woody, decided that it would be a great idea to buy Ichabod's and make it his own in sort of a time-honored R-FH traditional way. He did just that little more than a year ago and re-named the place Woody's Ocean Grille.
Word spread about the good food and atmosphere at the place and the clientele at Woody's quickly grew. On any given day or night, you'd find Woody at his place running around, greeting new and old friends and keeping things running smoothly.
Then, Hurricane Sandy hit. Woody's fared far better than most places. On the ocean side of Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright, it remained standing through it all with damage that Woody shook off as a minor annoyance. He was much more concerned with how he could help those around him who didn't weather the storm quite as well.
So, without a flinch, Woody jumped into action getting area chefs together to cook for and serve those working on restoring Sea Bright. From there, he decided to expand his operation and create a three-meal-a-day mess tent, unofficially dubbed Food City, for residents as well when they start filtering back into town.
In no time, the U.S. Army's National Guard descended on his makeshift site with tents, refridgerated trucks and all sorts of supplies. Volunteers came to him by the hundreds, including many area restaurateurs and chefs, and food, utensils and cooking equipment abounded.
He's now set up to serve three meals a day to those in need. "We will serve three meals a day: breakfast at 7 a.m., lunch around noon, when residents are in town and dinner for all the workers and anyone else left in town after the curfew around," Woody said.
He has been working basically around the clock since, so it's difficult to catch up with him. And, today, the last word was that Gov. Chris Christie stopped by and gave Woody the thumbs up to keep up his good work.
"He gave the go ahead to keep our operation going as long as we need it. Awesome!" Woody said in a brief post on his Facebook page.
Later in the day, Woody issued this alert on the restaurant's Facebook page:
"Food needed! We fed 1,000 meals today: tomorrow at Piping Rock field in Rumson by the HS we will have a pick up from 9 to 11 a.m.
We need: burgers, burger rolls, hot dog rolls, thin sliced chicken breast, mayo, sterno, aluminum serving dishes, soda, Gatorade, BBQ sauce, heavy duty paper plates, celery, aluminum foil, and easy to grill lunch items ... we have all the hot dogs we need. I could also use a truck full of ice. Please share this and spread the word quickly. Thanks. Woody"
A non-profit called Sea Bright Rising is being set up for this and other Sandy recovery efforts in the borough.
Patch will be visiting with Chris Wood at his mess tent as soon as he gets a moment. Stay tuned for more. And, keep it up, Woody! The R-FH community is very proud!